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Big Island Business Wins Mahi‘ai Match-Up Competition

April 25, 2022, 4:00 PM HST
* Updated April 25, 1:23 PM
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A Big Island business is one of three winners of the Kamehameha Schools Mahi‘ai Match-Up agricultural business plan competition.

Photo courtesy of Kamehameha Schools.

‘Awa Bird won a $10,000 cash award and an agricultural land agreement on Kamehameha Schools lands on Hawai‘i Island.

“Winning this competition allows my business to expand from a nursery to a full production farm and make my lifelong dream of having my own farm a reality,” said Nelson Crabbe, owner of ʻAwa Bird, in a press release. “What makes ‘Awa Bird special is that it will produce and sell all of the 13 known Hawaiian cultivars of ‘awa at an affordable price. Fresh frozen Hawaiian ‘awa should not be so expensive that it is only reserved for local people to enjoy at special occasions and ceremonies.”

Kamehameha Schools and its partners awarded agricultural and commercial agreements and a total of $50,000 in prizes to three Native Hawaiian-owned food systems businesses as part of this year’s Mahi‘ai Match-Up. The agricultural business plan competition is a part of Kamehameha Schools’ commitment to strengthen Hawai‘i’s agriculture industry and food systems for future generations.

The winners were recently announced during ‘Aha ‘Ᾱina Pauahi, a fundraising event hosted by the Pauahi Foundation celebrating Hawai‘i’s food systems.

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“Food security, sustainability and economic resilience is rooted in community,” said Kā‘eo Duarte, Kamehameha Schools vice president of Community & ‘Āina Resiliency, in the release. “Everyone who participated in this year’s Mahiʻai Match-Up is building a brighter future for their communities and Hawaiʻi, rooted in a deep love for ʻāina. It’s energizing to witness their commitment.”

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Kamehameha Schools stewards more than 181,000 acres of agricultural land throughout the islands. Farmers on Kamehameha Schools land grow a variety of crops and raise livestock, producing nearly 19 million pounds of food per year, according to the press release.

From Mahi‘ai Match-Up to a Food Systems Fund, Kamehameha Schools’ Food Systems Initiative is aimed at increasing production of and access to healthy, affordable, local food for all.

“As part of this effort, KS is engaging in partnerships to increase the productivity and resiliency of agricultural-related businesses on KS ‘āina and build consumer interest in locally grown foods and services,” said the press release.

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To learn more about Mahi‘ai Match-Up, click here.

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